If a sense of public duty won't get property owners to pay their taxes, perhaps public embarassment will, Prince William supervisors decided last week.

Beginning in September, Prince William will join a handful of Virginia jurisdictions that publish in local newspapers the names of taxpayers who owe the county more than $1,000.

About 1,200 people owe Prince William more than $1,000 each in back real estate, personal property and business and occupational license taxes. Their debts total more than $5 million. About half of that money is owed on 1989 taxes, while the rest dates to earlier years, said Assistant Cashier Jay S. Munnelly.

Not only will these people see their names in print, but they also will have to pay for the reading assignment. Taxpayers will be billed for their share of the $28,000 cost of publication -- about $23.50 apiece.

The supervisors opted not to publish the names of 25,450 more people who owe the county less than $1,000 apiece, with the money owed totaling $5.3 million. The county finance department estimated that publishing all the names would have cost $614,000.

"I don't expect miracles from it," said Supervisor Edwin C. King (D-Dumfries).

The District of Columbia, Alexandria and several Maryland jurisdictions already publish the names of delinquent property taxpayers. In the District, the government publishes the names and then auctions off all real estate on which the taxes are more than six months overdue. Last January, the ad included 7,200 parcels, D.C. Finance and Revenue spokeswoman Linda Grant said.

In Virginia, property can be auctioned off when tax payments are more than three years overdue, Munnelly said.

"There's a possibility we will be publicizing {an overdue account}, and if publication doesn't work, we will have to auction it off," Munnelly said.

The publication effort comes as Prince William officials, faced with slowing revenue growth, are struggling to come up with every extra penny.

The supervisors have approved a $36,000 personal property tax enforcement effort as part of the budget that takes effect next month. Crossing guards will be stopping cars and ticketing those without a decal showing that the vehicle is registered for personal property tax.